“Black Monday” has come and gone, and although there is still a lingering situation in Indianapolis, for the purposes of this piece we’re going to assume that head coach Chuck Pagano is safe. Now it’s time to rank the available head coaching jobs in the NFL.
#1 Denver Broncos
What’s good? When Gary Kubiak suddenly retired, this became the job that everyone wanted. There is a championship caliber defense with one of the game’s best players in Von Miller. John Elway has proven himself as one of the league’s best talent evaluators so it’s not likely that the cupboard will be “empty” anytime soon.
Things to be concerned about: Your entry point is important, and the Broncos are coming off a 9-7 season in a rebuilding year. Expectations are extremely high. Also, there’s the quarterback situation. Paxton Lynch is a first-round pick who couldn’t unseat former seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian last year. Lynch has to be the answer so whoever takes the job needs to make him into a functional quarterback, if not a star.
#2 Los Angeles Rams
What’s good? The Rams have a No. 1 overall pick at quarterback to groom and one of the league’s best defenders in Aaron Donald. The entry point is great as the team has been terrible for quite a while and it’s Los Angeles, where they shouldn’t have a problem attracting free agents.
Things to be concerned about: The culture has been bad for a while, ownership is questionable. The offensive line needs to be rebuilt and taxes and cost of living are high.
#3 Jacksonville Jaguars
What’s good? The Jaguars roster is much better than a 3-13 team would normally be and the owner is able to pay a lot of money for a coach or free agents. The entry point is great considering their decade of struggles and they are armed with another Top 5 draft pick. Although it will take some selling to land free agents, Florida has no state tax so the money goes a little further.
Things to be concerned about: The general manager is clearly on the hot seat which means that the head coach’s job security could be muted (see San Francisco). Quarterback Blake Bortles is looking a lot like a bust right now and it’s unclear if a new coach can bench him.
#4 San Diego Chargers
What’s good? There’s an actual borderline Hall of Fame quarterback in Philip Rivers who should still be playing at a high level for the next few years. There’s also defensive end/linebacker Joey Bosa who looks like an absolute stud.
Things to be concerned about: The team is likely moving to Los Angeles and that will be a whole set of difficulties for the new head coach regarding logistics. The offensive line has been bad for years and there really aren’t that many pieces to build around. They play in the league’s toughest division so the Chargers will likely be underdogs in six divisional games.
#5 San Francisco 49ers
What’s good? It’s a clean slate with tons of salary cap room. The new head coach will have a new general manager and they can construct the roster however they see fit. The last few years featured first-round picks on the defensive line which should begin to play well soon. The entry point is very low after a 2-14 season.
Things to be concerned about: Ownership with Jed York has proven itself to be dysfunctional. A clean slate also means that there isn’t a lot of talent on the roster and winning in the first year is pretty unrealistic.
#6 Buffalo Bills
What’s good? It’s a pretty competitive roster with a few playmakers on each side of the ball.
Things to be concerned about: Ownership and the front office seems dysfunctional, so much so that they benched their starting quarterback so they wouldn’t be stuck paying an injury guarantee. This isn’t a great free-agent destination, millionaires don’t want to live in Western New York in the winter months. Although the entry point is fairly low, with the team not making the playoffs for 17 years, the fanbase has become starved, resulting in additional pressure on the new head coach. There’s no quarterback to speak of, and the Bills are picking low enough where they likely won’t be able to start a rookie. Finally, the general manager is on the hot seat so a one-and-done for the head coach is a possibility.